The true measure of a great song is how it sounds after the accompanying instrumentation is stripped away. Singer-songwriter Jonathan Butler delivered a riveting performance last week on PBS’s Tavis Smiley Show (http://www.pbs.org/wnet/tavissmiley/interviews/jonathan-butler-3/) with just his impassioned voice and nylon-stringed guitar. He premiered his forthcoming urban adult contemporary single “Heart and Soul” with a background vocal assist from his daughter, Jodie Butler, who co-wrote the song with him for the newly released “Living My Dream,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.
The new set produced by Butler (www.JonathanButler.com) is a mix of vocal and instrumental songs that can withstand the test of being distilled to their essence just like the two-time Grammy nominee did with “Heart and Soul” on national television. His first single, “African Breeze,” a festive frolic filled with rhythms and hues from his native South Africa, is No. 4 this week on the Billboard chart. The disc constructed of R&B, jazz, world music and gospel elements was recorded with a live band in the House of Blues Studios and includes collaborations with the late George Duke, Marcus Miller and emerging saxophonist Elan Trotman.
Butler’s “Love & Soul” summer concert tour with Grammy-winning guitarist Norman Brown and acclaimed keyboardist Alex Bugnon continues through August before Butler leads his annual South African safari in September. While in South Africa, the artist will check in on the progress of the Jonathan Butler Foundation’s effort to provide music education to children with the purpose of keeping them away from addiction. Butler’s own life was saved and rescued from a life of drugs by music thus the foundation’s mission, “Purpose kills addiction,” is quite personal.
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